Blog: Home for the Holidays

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Home for the Holidays - Monday, January 1, 2024
You know how the song goes. There's no place like home for the holidays.

For the second year in a row, Priscilla and I stayed home for Christmas since we made an extra trip to LA in July ("Christmas in July") in addition to our usual trip for Thanksgiving. Despite not traveling in December, we had a pretty eventful holiday month. Here are the highlights.

We went to WinterFest at Great America on December 1. We both had the Gold pass this year due to me getting an award at work. It was nice to see all the lights and the holiday magic, though it was a little sad to see that the "It's Christmas, Snoopy!" show had been updated and no longer has the scripture reading from Linus. It was an impressive show in its own right, just not the same and felt a little empty without referencing the real reason for the season. We did a couple rides - RailBlazer twice and the holiday version of the Barney Oldfield Speedway, the latter at which we learned the lyrics to "The Twelve Days of Christmas" due to signs and decorations they had up.

Priscilla visited Great America again last week to get food one last time, since she had the dining pass for the year. The Great America app said that she's been there 53 times this year, and that's not including the days where she visited twice (once for lunch and once for dinner). She's definitely gotten her money's worth from that pass.

I took two weeks off work to make up for the four weeks of overtime that I put in when I was scrambling to get my big project done. I'll take a couple more weeks off when we go back to Japan in March. I got back to work the week before Christmas, which was a light week. And then nobody was really working the week between Christmas and New Year's. So, while I've been doing some work here and there, it's been a good time of getting away and focusing on other things.

Unfortunately, I was battling a cold during two of those weeks, and it seems to have turned into a mild case of pneumonia. I'm almost over it now, but progress has been slow.

We attended my business unit's holiday party on December 15. For the second year in a row, it was held at The Plex in San Jose. We enjoyed the food (and got a decent amount to take home when they brought out the takeout boxes at the end of the night), hit up the arcade, and did a good amount of roller skating. This was a familiar and predictable holiday party and I can see how some people would be turned off by that, especially since the parties of yesteryears were no-expenses-spared amazing, but we enjoy this venue. We don't mind the simple things.

Throughout the last month, we've been better about meeting up with people. I ran 10 miles at Rancho with Yang, we had dinner with the Leongs the first week of December, ate with Sharon during church lunch, I had my third and final training session with Brian (through the service auction at church), we had Christmas dinner with Uncle Kenway and Aunt Susan and her family, did respective Zoom dinners with my parents and Priscilla's parents, and Sharon and two of her daughters came over the day after Christmas and we walked and ate ice cream. And Tracy came over tonight for dinner and then we walked around the Willow Glen Holiday Lights. Unfortunately, visiting on New Year's is apparently a little late, since a fair amount of the lights were turned off. Our previous visits there were on the 28th and 27th, so I think that's what we'll have to do next time.

But there might not be a next time for us, at least in the near future. Priscilla and I have been talking about moving back to SoCal to be closer to family, particularly since her parents are getting to the age where they're starting to need more help with things. Weather is a big factor for me and I wouldn't enjoy living in the San Fernando Valley where summers get pretty hot. But we've been eyeing a city called Camarillo in Ventura County since it's semi-close to family while still providing some separation, homes are more affordable there (most places we've looked at seem to be between $800k and $1.2 million), and the weather actually seems to be better than where we are now. Camarillo is more coastal and it's not in the San Fernando Valley, and it doesn't get as hot in the summer and doesn't get as cold in the winter compared to Santa Clara. The crime rates are lower as well. It's not the perfect place, but no place is, and it would seem to suit our needs. I'm pretty sure that my manager would let me work remotely since three of my coworkers are fully remote. Priscilla thinks there's a chance that her workplace can shuffle job duties so that she can also work remotely, but it remains to be seen.

We're thinking of moving this year once the right house comes on the market. So far, I haven't really liked any of the houses that have shown up on Redfin, though I have more criteria than Priscilla. Hopefully inventory will pick up in the coming months. But I don't think we'd really want to buy anything before our Japan trip. We've also been discussing whether to sell our current house first and the logistics around that.

At any rate, moving will be a big change. I've been in the Bay Area since 2008 and at RBF since 2009 or 2010. Priscilla married into the church in 2012 but, even so, has been there longer than most people. Though we're not super close to people here, we do have valuable friendships that we will miss. Who knows whether we'll be able to cultivate the same level of relationships when we move, even if we end up going to Priscilla's old church (which would be a 30 minute drive, doable but not ideal). And we've worked hard to make this house a home over the last 10 years; moving and going through that process again will be no small effort. So much is up in the air, but we do think we're intent on moving. We've been in the Bay Area together for nearly 12 years, but it didn't take long to come to this conclusion once we started seriously discussing it. The timing and circumstances just felt right. So we'll see how things go.

On a final note, my home improvement project for the past two weeks has been to install motorized shades in the family room. The wand on our old blinds broke and we had to operate them by climbing onto the couch and turning the mechanism by hand. Not great considering that we operate those blinds a couple times every day. The blinds also never worked that well. So I did some research and decided that I wanted motorized shades, and I found a company on Yelp that quoted me $1,700. But I found some shades on Amazon that came out to $400 when I selected my dimensions and options, so I decided to order those and attempt to install them myself. I had to remove the old blinds and patch the holes, and the first time I installed the new shades, the drywall anchors that were included started pulling out of the wall. The shades are mounted on the underside of the window frame and the anchors didn't provide much holding strength when used vertically. So I had to remove everything and patch those holes as well. I ended up buying 2-inch screws from Home Depot and used those to attach the mounting brackets to the window frame, with an inch of each screw secured tightly in the header of the wood frame. Those brackets aren't going anywhere now. So now we have some pretty useful shades that are programmable and can even be operated using a voice assistant. Priscilla loves the shades and loves telling the Google Home to open and close them. This was something that was time and money well-spent, and it should also enhance the appeal of our house when it comes time to sell!

I think it's been a productive month and a meaningful year. I hope that we can be intentional about how we spend our time, who we spend it with, and where we spend it, so that the new year is equally as purposeful.